Category Archives: Best Of

Popular, poignant, or otherwise significant.

L’appel Telephonique Sauvage

L'appel Telephonique Sauvage
A One Act Play
Based On True Events
By Dan Dickinson
DAN DICKINSON sits at his desk.  His computer is 
playing "Narcolepsy" by Ben Folds.  His wife, 
KATIE DICKINSON, is sitting on the couch typing 
into her laptop.
DAN DICKINSON Hmm, wonder who that could be.
DAN mutes his music and walks over to the phone, picking it up in his right hand.
There is a SHORT PAUSE, followed by a click.
MALE VOICE ON PHONE (background noise indicates some sort of call center) Hello?
DAN is visibly irritated, knowing this is a cold call.
DAN DICKINSON (irritated) Yes?
DAN DICKINSON (somewhat surprised they used just a nickname) Yes?
MALE VOICE ON PHONE (jovial) How's it going? This is Pam from Girls' Gone Wild...
DAN DICKINSON *(V.O., representing internal monologue)* What the FUCK?
MALE VOICE NAMED PAM (still jovial) We're conducting a short phone survey and...
DAN DICKINSON (strongly) Could you PLEASE put me on your "Do Not Call" list?
DAN hangs up the phone, then stares at it, baffled. CURTAIN FALLS. END.

I wish I had the wit, comedic timing, and tape recorder of Eugene Mirman – I can only imagine how much unbridled hilarity could have been in store.

(If you liked this one, be sure to read my other life-is-surreal play, The Market Of Boston.)

Quicksilver: From A Better OS X To Even More

This is an intermediate Quicksilver tutorial, to help people who went through my first tutorial and are looking for a little more in-depth information about how to tweak Quicksilver. While there are a few nifty things to do in here that are spelled out verbatim, most of this should be taken as a launching pad into your own self discovery about Quicksilver.

Before going through this article, please make sure your copy Quicksilver is up to date (including plugins), you know how to invoke the hotkey and do basic Quicksilver actions, and can find the preferences window.

This is current through b51 (3800).

You are going to rock and roll. And you can hardly wait for the music to begin. When it happens, you will become a part of that music. You are there. You are going on a musical trip. The highest, happiest trip that you’ve ever been on. Enjoy it, and get into it. Loosen your seatbelts, let’s rock and roll.

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On The Existence Of Bagels

Since moving to NYC, one of the minor changes I’ve gone through is the change in bagel preference. Living in Ithaca, one gets very used to the Upstate-style bagel; thick, heavy, doughy, fairly chewy. New York City bagels, of course, are thinner, wider, lighter, and a little less doughy. Everyone sells bagels, and they are cheap and filling.

When we place a Fresh Direct order for groceries, we always tend to order a six-pack of bagels and some cream cheese, for the occasional time I want to eat breakfast. The ones that are delivered meet all of the above criteria for a NYC bagel, and also keep very well in the freezer. Strangely, though, it is impossible for me to prepare myself one without having a minor aneurism.

Why this intense pain in the head? On the packaging, the slogan and product name meld together one of the most mind-boggling sentences in human history since “If it weren’t for my horse, I never would have spent that extra year on college.”

The pitch reads:


Just Bagels, of course, is the name of the product. Still, even knowing this, I am forced to read this as: Instances of object X aren’t instance of object X unless they’re simply instances of object X.

Is this a blow against fancy things, maybe? Are they implying that were a bagel all spruced up with fancy seeds and flavorings, that it would stop being a bagel and turn into some other sort of bread foodstuff, such as a bialy? But they sell six varieties, including Just Bagels Everything. Surely that’s not just a bagel, as the combination of poppy and sesame and onion and garlic disqualifies one from saying it’s just a bagel.

Perhaps they’re speaking to the moral sense of the bagels – a sort of superhero bagel, upholding the standards and beliefs of our fair city. I would find this hard to believe, as they do not seem to have any superpowers to resist my desire to eat them, nor do I gain the ability to fly by eating them.

(At this point in the entry, I’m looking at the dictionary definitions for just in hopes of deciphering further. I would appreciate it if someone called for professional help.)

How about “by a narrow margin, barely”? That doesn’t speak well to the product, though, if it only squeaks by the qualification charts for what constitutes a bagel. Ignoring the disqualification of bagels conforming better to the specification, this throws us into even more mental anguish as we are judging the conformance of a bagel on whether or not it conforms to the state of the bagel.

One final possibility is that they are using “just” as a variant on joust. Perhaps these bagels ride into battle and try to knock each other over when…

Needless to say, this is why I often just go out to eat.

Quicksilver – A Better OS X In Just 10 Minutes

Note: This tutorial is also available in O’Reilly’s OS X Panther Hacks.

Further Reading: I have also published an intermediate tutorial, with 10 steps to leverage more power with Quicksilver. There’s also Gold Trigger, which helps you understand the trigger system.

This isn’t Ronco. I’m not an excitable friend from across the ocean with red hair and a bowtie and a British accent. You’re not watching Amazing Discoveries.

But I swear, if you give me 10 minutes and you follow my simple directions, you can go from merely using Mac OS X to owning it.

This probably sounds like bullshit, I know. I wouldn’t have believed it myself had I not tried this app and felt my jaw drop over and over again for the last year. So standby to win.

Before you start, you will need to have:

  • A Mac running Mac OS X 10.4 or better.
  • Data, in any of the following forms – iTunes library, iPhoto albums, Address Book entries, bookmarks in any browser, whatever.

Got all that? Let’s begin.

Please note this was originally written using Quicksilver Beta 19, and has been updated repeatedly. The information contained within is currently up-to-date through b42 “Corgi”. As development goes rapidly on Quicksilver, things may have changed since I last updated this.

Continue reading Quicksilver – A Better OS X In Just 10 Minutes